NetherRealm Studios have been killing it for the better part of a decade and a half, basically ever since Midway went under and Ed Boon and the gang rose from the ashes to reboot Mortal Kombat. While the Mortal Kombat series has gone from strength to strength, with MK12 seemingly planned as their next release, some recognition should be shown to Injustice, their DC fighting series that’s celebrating its tenth anniversary today.
On the surface, you might think that Injustice: Gods Among Us is just another superhero fighting game that doesn’t do much to break the mold, with a premise that’s been aped and regurgitated across comics and other media for years already: what if Superman was a bit of a naughty boy? Injustice honed in on a Superman who veered towards fascism after being tricked into killing Lois Lane, with the rest of the DC Universe scrambling to pick sides in the inevitable fallout, and while comics like Red Son have dealt with topics like that already, it felt like Injustice was the impetus for that idea in wider popular culture.
Whether it was due to the fact that Injustice was the first DC fighting game in years, its connection to Mortal Kombat or it was just the novelty of an evil Superman for an unsuspecting populace, it felt like Injustice catapulted the Evil Superman concept into the cultural mainstream. Again, it wasn’t the first time that other media had dabbled with those ideas, but without Injustice, it might have taken so much longer for the premise to penetrate into popular culture the way it has now.
Without Injustice, you could argue that we wouldn’t have seen games like the recently delayed Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League, which will see Brainiac mind controlling pretty much everyone in the Hall of Heroes, Superman included. We also might not have seen a TV show like The Boys reach the incredible success it has. Granted, Garth Ennis wrote the original comic book, but a film adaptation had been in the works since 2008, just a year or two after the series had been released. It was only after the release of Injustice where Seth Rogan, Evan Goldberg and Eric Kripke’s TV show pitch was greenlit, and The Boys became a cultural juggernaut all of its own.
Anthony Starr’s Homelander is the best Evil Superman though, just saying.
While it might be just correlation as opposed to causation regarding Injustice’s connection to The Boys, what cannot be denied is the level of success and notoriety that Injustice has enjoyed. Like a modern-day version of Harley Quinn, transitioning from a side character in a Batman animated show to a DC Universe mainstay, Injustice has spawned dozens of prequel, sequel and spin-off comics, an animated movie and that all important second game. A third game also wouldn’t go amiss either, but that’s another story.
Injustice doesn’t just deserve credit for the whole Evil Superman stuff though, as the development of Injustice actually helped to improve Mortal Kombat as a whole, specifically with the stage interactions. Fans of Injustice loved how the stage interactions accentuated the powers of each hero, while also giving players more options during the fight to attack and defend, so much so that NetherRealm Studios included the feature in Mortal Kombat X and MK 11.
The wait for Injustice 3 could be neverending at this point, considering that NetherRealm seem to be all systems go on Mortal Kombat right now, but if NetherRealm ever get the time or development resources to make it happen, they should go for it. Who knows? They might pioneer a new superhero trend once again.
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